By Amanda Jo Haney, MSW – June 4, 2019
In our modern society, social media is one of the most common ways we communicate with one another. This is true for adults and children.
With summer break starting, many children will find even more time than usual to spend on their phones, tablets, or computers. Often times they are communicating through social media apps. Do we know who they are talking to? Do they really know?
As parents, our main goal is to keep our children safe and healthy. This applies to both physical and emotional health.
One important way to help them stay safe while using social media is to monitor their usage. Just like when our children spend time with their friends in real life, we need to know what they are doing and who they are talking to through social media platforms.
While it is important to give our children some freedom, we still need to know that they are being safe and following the social media rules we set for them. Giving them clear rules and consequences for their misuse will help them continue to use social media in a positive manner.
Teach them social media safety habits. While it is ideal to share this information with them before they get on social media for the first time, that might be difficult. These rules and safety measures will be valuable at any time.
According to www.connectsafely.org/social-web-tips-for-teens/, some of the things children (of any age) can do to stay safe online are as follows:
1. Be your own person. Never pretend to be someone that you are not. Be who you really are and you will attract the people who will become your real friends.
2. Be nice. Don’t say mean things just because you can hide behind a screen. Your words hurt the same as if you would say them to the person’s face.
3. Think about what you post. Remember that once it is out there it is out there for everyone!
4. Do not add people you don’t know on social media accounts. Having friends and followers is fun but can be dangerous when they are strangers.
5. Never send inappropriate pictures or engage in sexual conversations with peers or strangers. Never. Never. Never.
ALSO – NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR ADDRESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA! Don’t even tell anyone you don’t know what city you live in or what school you go to. Don’t post photos that show your school or give any information about where you live. Try to be as vague as possible about where you live.
If we stress the importance of these rules and safety habits and reinforce them with a consistent reward/consequence system, we can help our children stay safe online. This also will give us some peace of mind when trusting our kids with the responsibility and privilege of using social media.